February 5, 2016: Kawaiisu Resin Spoon, San-na-que-ah-but-zy
This resin spoon was used to coat water bottle baskets with resin from piñon or nut pine for additional waterproofing. That both water bottles and spoons used to coat water bottles were made as twined basketry speaks to the importance and diversity of California basketry.
Merriam’s account of collecting this basket is as follows, transcribed from his journals:
“Visited two Indian camps (1/2 mile and 2 miles north easterly from Piute) of a tribe of Indians I have never met before. They call themselves No-woo’-wah or New –woo’-ah and speak a strange language a brief vocabulary of which I will give later. In these camps were newly killed Mountain Quail and Valley Quail. The latter were common all about and I saw the young boys shooting them with small 22 cal. Rifles. The Mountain Quail they told me they had killed on Piute Mountain “above the mine.”
The lower camp consists of a rough brush enclosure. I saw there an old woman, a middle aged man and wife, 3 girls in their teens, and a small boy and small girl.
The upper camp is over the first ridge and is obviously a very old Indian home. It consists of a ranch with garden and fruit trees – mainly apple. There is a good adobe house inhabited by two families. The house is in two parts separated by a partition. The Indians told me it was built by Indians a long time ago. A few rods away is an interesting hut, about 8 ft. high and 10 in diameter. It is oval and has a frame work of slender poles fastened together at the crossings with bark widths or thongs. There are both upright and horizontal poles, and the upright ones curve over and down instead of sticking up at the top. The entire hut is covered with large round rushes, made into a coarse mat which completely covers the framework leaving an entrance in front, which opens into a small brush enclosure. The hut may be a sweat house. In it I found several burden baskets and a couple of resin spoons, for pouring the hot fine resin on the water bottles to make them water tight. These I bought, along with several other rough work baskets and a fairly good hat bowl.”